The South Sydney Rabbitohs arrive at the start of the 2023 season with a re-signed spine and hopes of higher achievement after yet another preliminary final in 2023.

The departure of Wayne Bennett and Adam Reynolds ahead of last year's kick-off left significant questions over the men from Redfern and what they'd be able to achieve with a rookie coach and halfback at the helm.

And it looked like the battle was going to be a step too great at times, with the Bunnies sitting around the edge of the top eight mid-season.

But after Lachlan Ilias at one point was hooked, he found himself able to improve out of sight in the second half of the year, dragging South Sydney into the finals, and ultimately, all the way to the preliminary final where they'd fall short against the same team who beat them in the previous season's grand final, being Penrith.

The other key components of the spine - Cody Walker, Latrell Mitchell and Damien Cook - have all re-signed, taking away a key area of potential off-field distraction throughout the year, and with only three losses from last year's Top 30, things are exceedingly stable at Redfern.

Here is how the Rabbitohs will line up in 2023.

Recruitment report

Ins: Terrell Kalo Kalo (2023), Josiah Karapani (2024), Ben Lovett (2024), Leon Te Hau (2024)

Outs: Mark Nicholls (The Dolphins), Kodi Nikorima (The Dolphins), Jaxson Paulo (Sydney Roosters)

Re-signed: Michael Chee-Kam (2023), Damien Cook (2025), Dean Hawkins (2023), Lachlan Ilias (2025), Ben Lovett (2024), Taane Milne (2024), Latrell Mitchell (2027), Shaquai Mitchell (2024), Isaiah Tass (2024), Izaac Thompson (2024), Cody Walker (2025)

Off-contract 2023: Thomas Burgess, Jed Cartwright, Michael Chee-Kam, Dean Hawkins, Jacob Host, Terrell Kalo Kalo, Liam Knight, Hame Sele, Blake Taaffe

Full squad

Jai Arrow, Thomas Burgess, Jed Cartwright, Michael Chee-Kam, Damien Cook, Campbell Graham, Siliva Havili, Dean Hawkins, Jacob Host, Lachlan Ilias, Alex Johnston, Richie Kennar, Liam Knight, Keaon Koloamatangi, Ben Lovett, Peter Mamouzelos, Taane Milne, Latrell Mitchell, Shaquai Mitchell, Davvy Moale, Cameron Murray, Hame Sele, Daniel Suluka-Fifita, Blake Taaffe, Isaiah Tass, Tevita Tatola, Leon Te Hau, Izaac Thompson, Cody Walker

Who plays where?


Latrell Mitchell has rapidly turned himself into one of the best fullbacks in the NRL. He proved it beyond all reasonable doubt during the 2022 campaign as well.

After missing much of the first half of the year with injury, and even heading to the United States of America to get things properly sorted out, he returned during the second half and dragged the Rabbitohs into the finals.

South Sydney's form turnaround was rapid following his return, but Mitchell's form meant it was no coincidence, with the star fullback attacking and defending better than he ever has since making the switch to the back from centre.

Alex Johnston, who is a star winger, has spent some time filling in at the back for Mitchell in recent years, but the more likely option if there are issues if Blake Taaffe, who by all reports has been training strongly and will push for more opportunities this year.

Leon Te Hau and Terrell Kalo Kalo - both incredibly talented youngsters - find themselves in the Top 30 this year as well and serve as other options to line up at fullback.


As mentioned, Alex Johnston is the star winger at Redfern and will line up there everytime he is fit throughout the 2023 campaign.

A try-scoring freak, Johnston is rapidly approaching Ken Irvine's record with 166 to his name from 191 games. At just 28 years of age, if he stays fit, he is destined to break it.

The other wing spot is far less secure.

Taane Milne held it for a lot of last year, but his on-field discipline cost both himself and the Rabbitohs at times throughout the 2022 campaign.

That said, Izaac Thompson had a wonderful debut, will start this year while Milne is serving a suspension, and for mine, should hold the spot as part of the best 17.

NRL Rd 3 - Rabbitohs v Roosters


In the centres, Campbell Graham will be the first man picked for South Sydney. He made Australia's World Cup squad at the end of 2022, such was his form last year.

He is, without doubt, one of the best defensive centres in the competition, but also brings plenty through his attack and is now a mainstay of Demetriou's side.

The other side of the park will see Isaiah Tass take up residence. He finally received his opportunity to play first-grade rugby league last year, and didn't disappoint.

The Rabbitohs have plenty of back up in the centres should things go wrong. Josiah Karapani is rated highly and could debut this year, Michael Chee-Kam and Jed Cartwright both bring utility value, and the fullback duo we talked about earlier in Leon Te Hau and Terrell Kalo Kalo could both fill in here as well.


The halves pick themselves for the Rabbitohs, with Cody Walker to wear the number six and Lachlan Ilias to wear the number seven.

Plenty has been made about Ilias and his talents, with the halfback improving out of sight during the second half of last year to prove he can hang at NRL level.

Walker, who was coming off one of the most incredible seasons of all-time in 2021, struggled to reach the same level of production during 2022, but still had a solid campaign for the Bunnies.

Blake Taaffe serves as the main back up to both the five-eighth and halfback roles at Redfern, while young halfback Dean Hawkins will continue to wait for an opportunity.

Middle forwards

The departure of Mark Nicholls opens up a spot in the middle third for South Sydney, and it could be argued, is their only issue this year given they haven't really replaced his loss.

That is offset by the breakout form of Tevita Tatola. Outside of Joseph Tapine at the Canberra Raiders, the argument could easily be made that he was the form prop of the competition during the second half of last year.

Tatola will be joined in the starting side by Thomas Burgess, who spent most of 2022 coming off the bench, but did it superbly, averaging big metres and high production at both ends of the park in what was often enough minutes to justify a starting role.

At lock, it's Cameron Murray who will start, with daylight between him and anyone contending for the position.

Shaquai Mitchell was strong in limited opportunities last year and will come into calculations, as will Davvy Moale who is rated as one of the best young props in the game. Hame Sele, who is injured to start the year, is another who will push for opportunities.

Liam Knight and Daniel Suluka-Fifita are South Sydney's other middle forward options.


Damien Cook comes into the 2023 campaign as the number nine once again at Redfern, and it's a role he is now likely to hold for another three seasons after re-signing until at least the end of 2025.

He is backed up by Peter Mamouzelos, who will now have an intriguing decision to make when his contract ends at the end of the 2024 campaign.

The duo form a two-pronged dummy half system for South Sydney, with Siliva Havili also providing strong depth, although he starts the season injured.

NRL Semi Final - Eels v Rabbitohs


The second-row were one of the major bright spots for South Sydney throughout the course of the 2022 season, and they will stay the same heading into 2023.

Jai Arrow made the shift from the middle to the edge during the campaign, and will remain there in 2022 as he lines up on the left, while the barnstorming Keaon Koloamatangi takes the other side of the park.

Koloamatangi has all the talents of some of the best second-rowers in the competition, and his name should be mentioned alongside Haumole Olakau'atu and David Fifita, as just a pair of examples.

Jacob Host was strong throughout 2023 and also comes into calculations, while the Rabbitohs have plenty of depth on the edge - all of Ben Lovett, Jed Cartwright and Michael Chee-Kam could line up there if needed.


Off the bench, the number 14 jumper comes down to a battle between Blake Taaffe and Peter Mamouzelos, but with Taaffe able to play in the backline, he will take it.

The first forward spot on the bench goes to Siliva Havili, with the (currently injured) forward, also able to play at dummy half, while impressing in the middle last year.

Jacob Host will be the specialist second-rower on the bench, but even he has versatility with the ability to play in the middle, while Davvy Moale should take the final spot ahead of Shaquai Mitchell, who is a good chance to play in Round 1 thanks to the injury to Havili.

Rabbitohs' best 17 for 2023

1. Latrell Mitchell
2. Alex Johnston
3. Campbell Graham
4. Isaiah Tass
5. Izaac Thompson
6. Cody Walker
7. Lachlan Ilias
8. Tevita Tatola
9. Damien Cook
10. Thomas Burgess
11. Keaon Koloamatangi
12. Jai Arrow
13. Cameron Murray
14. Blake Taaffe
15. Siliva Havili
16. Jacob Host
17. Davvy Moale